Born in 1781, Beauharnais’ life was transformed when his father Alexandre was guillotined during the French Revolution
, and his mother, Josephine, married Napoleon Bonaparte
. While Beauharnais at first rejected Napoleon, he was won over and began to work for his father in politics and the military. When Napoleon became Emperor Beauharnais became Prince and Archchancellor. The following year Beauharnais was made viceroy of the new kingdom of Italy, where he worked to reform and organise the state. Beauharnais was one of Napoleon’s better officers, and commanded the Italian force during the 1809 war, winning a key battle and proving useful at Wagram, and won further laurels during the disaster in Russia and the rearguard action in Germany. In 1814 he kept the French interest in Italy alive, refused to betray his stepfather, and only surrendered once Napoleon had abdicated. He now retired, and travelled to the Bavarian court, where he settled having married a Bavarian princess in 1806. Now Duke von Leuchtenberg, he lived until 1824.